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Need a Receipt On Taxes? The Federal Tax Receipt 642

ndogg writes "The White House has opened up a tool that lets you see where your tax dollars are being spent. I put my numbers in and it showed that a little over a quarter goes towards defense and military spending (I'm not sure I'm getting my money's worth on that one), and a little under a quarter for health care." I'm sure readers (and think tanks of various stripes) will have some alternative narratives, too. For readers elsewhere; it's tax season here in the US.
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Need a Receipt On Taxes? The Federal Tax Receipt

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  • by calmofthestorm ( 1344385 ) on Friday April 15, 2011 @11:36PM (#35836682)

    ...with them I buy civilization.

    • But mostly bombs.

      • Yeah I'm not a fan of the defense spending, but looking at the rest of the money I'm pretty content with where it went. I'd like a bit more to STEM and a bit less to corn, but then I am an engineering grad student; were I a corn farmer I might feel differently:)

        • Yeah I'm not a fan of the defense spending, but looking at the rest of the money I'm pretty content with where it went. I'd like a bit more to STEM and a bit less to corn, but then I am an engineering grad student; were I a corn farmer I might feel differently:)

          Were you a corn farmer you should recuse yourself from the issue, at least in any official capacity.

    • Screw that, we'll just put it on the credit card [harvard.edu].

    • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:30AM (#35836974)

      You, and anyone else who likes paying taxes, are welcome to pay more. Here's the page that tells you how [treas.gov].

      If you want to advocate for higher taxes, start by going to that page, following the instructions, and sending the government a check. Then come back and talk to us about paying higher taxes.

      • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:28AM (#35837256) Homepage

        Also, all you Amish farmers can STFU about barn-raising until I see Amos over there hoist one up by himself.

      • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:42PM (#35841654)

        If you want to advocate for higher taxes, start by going to that page, following the instructions, and sending the government a check. Then come back and talk to us about paying higher taxes.

        That's a completely illogical argument because individual actions cannot solve collective problems. Installing a catalytic converter on your own car won't improve the air you breathe in the slightest, whereas requiring everybody to do so (including yourself) causes a huge improvement. The two are not the same, so equating them doesn't work.

    • I don't like paying taxes, because I don't like paying for everyone else's unearned security. Out of my own pocket, I have saved a six months emergency fund in the bank that could sustain my family for six months should I lose my job. But apparently I'm the only one left who actually saves for a rainy day, because all my medicare taxes go to medicare, and then on top of that an additional 24.3% of my general taxes go to healthcare (again, much of that amount medicare and medicaid), another 21.9% goes to job

      • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:07AM (#35837140)

        Let's imagine a world where you don't pay for the "unearned security" of others. The kid next door, through no fault of his own, has irresponsible parents. Maybe he gets knocked around. He certainly can't afford college. He tries to get a job, but the antics of the super-rich (in their efforts to become double-ultra-super-rich) have sent a lot of them overseas. He has no access to food or medicine or shelter, because you're too greedy to toss some money his way.

        So he breaks into your home, robs, and murders you.

        Taxes are what the rich people pay in exchange for the poor letting them continue to be rich. Doesn't seem fair? Tough shit. Life isn't fair. Just ask that starving kid next door.

        • by sayfawa ( 1099071 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:20AM (#35837502)
          Taxes are what the rich people pay in exchange for the poor letting them continue to be rich. Doesn't seem fair? Tough shit. Life isn't fair. Just ask that starving kid next door.

          Exactly. Funny how the anti-tax people only state that life isn't fair when they're asked to feel sympathy for the kid born to poor parents, through no fault of their own. But ask them to pay taxes and all of a sudden they feel like we should be in some fairy-tale flat-tax (or no tax) world.

          What I like to ask the wealthy whiners is; if you're getting treated so unfairly while these freeloading, poor, sub-human, cradle-to-grave ghetto-dwellers are living the high-life off of your tax dollars, you should be happy to trade places, right? Right?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ha! As if you "earned" anything you have. Plenty of people throughout history would have done just as well as you in your position, perhaps better, but were born in Britain to lowly parents in 1150 and lived and died as serfs. You're not a serf based on pure luck, but you want to pretend that you have control in this universe so you invent this fiction where you earned everything, which necessarily means that people who don't have it therefore did not earn it; it's logically consistent, but it's based on

      • by Clsid ( 564627 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:30AM (#35837540)

        Some of those social programs are actually designed to avoid extreme misery to fellow human beings, because you know, after all we are all humans. You might feel mighty and strong now, but I would like to see that you speak with that same tone when you are old, become disabled or sick somehow. Individuality is good but you should change that mentality of not wanting to give anything to help others. It's part of helping your nation helping those who cannot help themselves.

      • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @02:48AM (#35837598)

        Out of my own pocket, I have saved a six months emergency fund in the bank that could sustain my family for six months should I lose my job. But apparently I'm the only one left who actually saves for a rainy day, because all my medicare taxes go to medicare, and then on top of that an additional 24.3% of my general taxes go to healthcare (again, much of that amount medicare and medicaid), another 21.9% goes to job and family security (unemployment, housing, foodstamps, unearned income credit, etc), and another 5% goes to education and job training.

        I'm not sure how much you budgeted for those six months, but one major medical emergency while not covered by health insurance would probably wipe out the majority of those savings.

    • by Rayonic ( 462789 )

      ...with them I buy civilization.

      Or rather, other people buy it for you. And they're rather impulsive shoppers. (Not very thrifty either.)

      At least they kinda sorta vaguely listen to you, though. People in totalitarian regimes pay taxes too, and I'm not sure it buys them very good civilization at all.

  • $666.00 in net interest for me, LOL. That is more than the amount of my taxes spent on Science/Tech + ICE + Natural Resources + Agriculture.

    I also seem to be buying lots of bullets, or something else that goes BOOM!

  • Let me guess, this guy has some sort of political axe to grind and he is looking for way to try to justify tax cuts in areas he doesn't like.

    FACTS ARE FACTS, these are numbers where money is going and where they are spent. While he can say that "welfare" should be renamed "money for cadillac queens" or that the "defense department" should be renamed "military industrial complex" it doesn't change where the money is going or what is is actually being spent for.

    (Not unless you're Jon Kyl and claim on the sen

    • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:02AM (#35836828) Journal

      I believe the difference is that proving for the national defense is in the Constitution. Welfare and Planned Parenthood are not. At least with NASA, you can say it has military applications. Same with the Interstate system. But the federal government has no Constitutional right to fund Planned Parenthood, ACORN, GE, GM, Chrysler, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or any of the thousands of other programs that get funded because the government is so big that no one will notice.

      The government has very few functions. Those need to be funded. The rest needs to be funded by the states... or not.

      • by Thomas M Hughes ( 463951 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:52AM (#35837074)

        The preamble of the United States constitution reads: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." (emphasis added)

        Article I, section 8 reinforces this general welfare statement by remarking: "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." (more emphasis added).

        Insofar as Planned Parenthood encourages the development of families that are planned and not just accidents, ACORN encourages get out the vote projects to enhance American democracy, General Electric, General Motors, and Chrysler provide gainful employment for Americans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide opportunities for home ownership, and the like, I think you reasonably have to say the goal is to provide for the general welfare.

        You and I are welcome to disagree over whether those are the best ways to promote the general welfare (and in many cases, though not all, I suspect we would be in agreement, despite this post). However, the constitution is pretty clear that the US government has a general broad right to promote the general welfare in the United States.

        I should also like to add, one of the primary advocates of the United States Constitution during the period leading up to its ratification was Alexander Hamilton, who was originally in favor of setting up a fairly powerful monarch. He lost out on the the first draft of the Constitution -- the Articles of Confederation -- which provided for a much more limited government. However, we threw that in the toilet and opted for the Constitution, which was designed to strengthen and centralize the Federal government's power, not really limit it (though it does have its own limitations laid out in the Bill of Rights).

        Look, I'm pretty sympathetic to the Jeffersonian minimalist government ideal. But the Constitution isn't a Jeffersonian document. It's a Hamiltonian and Madisonian one, and those guys were more for centralized power than the original founders were. Insofar as that's the government we got, that's the government we got.

      • I love how American political dialogue is strictly limited to the exegesis of a very old document. How bizarre.

        • It has deep philosophical roots, based on very practical situations. Learn about the rule of law [wikipedia.org]. It says that no person or organization is above the rule of law (for good reason). In the US, the constitution is the document used to restrain congress, the president, and others from abusing their position. It was carefully designed to do so. It is much like Unix; if you don't follow it you are likely to run into the same problems it was designed to solve.

          Note that the situation is not entirely different th
  • Priorities (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eparker05 ( 1738842 )

    "NSF and research" = "Railroad retirement and income security"
    "Weapon R&D" = 17x"NSF and research"

    Something is seriously wrong with our priorities.

  • "War on Drugs" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Friday April 15, 2011 @11:55PM (#35836784) Homepage Journal
    So which department does the stupid ass "War on Drugs" fall under? You know, spending massive amounts of money(and wasting fuel and polluting the environment) flying around in helicopters burning naturally occurring plants, throwing people in jail(which costs about $50k/year/head and prevents them from contributing to society) etc etc etc.

    As a tax payer, I'm pissed at this stupid ass "war". You want to reduce spending and increase revenues? Legalize and tax marijuana.
  • by RyanFenton ( 230700 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:04AM (#35836848)

    This will be a supremely unpopular stance among a large section here - but taxes are one of the best bargains in any marketplace.

    Taxes buy infrastructure. The kind of infrastructure that allows us all to live as kings used to, and more. The kind of infrastructure without which the work of countless geniuses of all stripes would be impossible. The kind of tools and infrastructure that raises the average lifespan across the world to many times what it was before taxes were common.

    Taxes buy culture. Education systems may not be ideal - but they advance the average human state in ways that it is hard to quantify in everyday terms. Simply being able to have conversations and do business across large nations like the US is one small bit. A limited but important bit of shared history, and the seeds of knowledge that sprout in countless little ways. They can certainly always be better - but the return is enormous on what we have so far, just by allowing what we have.

    From tools, to access to shared resources, to even the ability to shape the system you live in - taxes buy a lot more than a simple minarchy would allow.

    Taxes are the resources of the people paying for the shared needs of the people. They are in effect, allowing everyone to take advantage of economies of scale when used correctly (see: most sane nations' use of healthcare money), and often stand as an irreplaceable method of getting shared needs met.

    What's surprising is how often people will directly vote to have the rich pay less taxes, and the poor pay more - that part never made sense to me, given how much shared sacrifice already goes into providing people with the tools to become rich - it just doesn't seem like they need more protection all the time.

    But that's part of taxes also - they will be spent as the people's representatives allow them to be spent. Keep electing people and allowing them to be bribed constantly with no checks in place to stop the rising corruption on all sides, and you will keep getting taxes wasted - wasted by the system you allow to grow more stagnant.

    Taxes aren't perfect - but they are still a bargain compared to warlords and tycoons ruling everything in the vacuum of a world without any collective funding system.

    Ryan Fenton

    • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:17AM (#35836910)

      A small fraction goes to "infrastructure". Some of that actually is "a bargain".

      Most of the rest is directly or indirectly transferred to people who have more political power than you.

    • by Radres ( 776901 )

      You forgot - taxes buy death for brown people so we can steal the black goo beneath their feet.

    • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @03:12AM (#35837706) Homepage Journal

      Taxes buy infrastructure.

      - taxes kill infrastructure.

      FDR taxed the airlines in order to build the unprofitable and inefficient system of roads while taking apart the existing system of privately owned profitable and efficient rail. This was a massive subsidy to the auto-industry, it caused massive sub-urban sprawl, which is unmaintainable without huge subsidies. It cause much more pollution that rail ever could. It caused much more traffic and waste of peoples' lives than if cities were much less spread around and instead had more population density in smaller area. It killed the industry for profitable public transport (well, it was part of the kill, there are many other parts, all have government hands in it).

      Of-course today Obama wants to build rail. Of-course USA has no money for it, but they figure they'll print it/borrow from Chinese. It will be massively expensive and inefficient, because the plan is to use all USA parts, which don't actually exist, so it can't be profitable without huge subsidies because nobody would be able to buy the tickets without huge subsidies. I don't think Obama actually will do this, USA is literally out of investment capital and credit, but that was the plan anyway.

      Taxes buy culture.

      - so without taxes there is no culture? You are talking about education for some reason there, but education is a function of the market, which requires education if it is a productive market. USA used to be a productive market in 19 century, beginning of the 20 century and past WWII, when it had a monopoly on production. It was the industrialization and manufacturing that pushed for more education, not gov't in any way. Education was efficient and it made sense as an investment. It was also quite cheap. All until government money poured in, made the system very expensive and inefficient and destroyed quality in the process. Now the market in USA does not require anywhere near as much education as there are dollars allocated for all the government subsidized schools and programs and loans, there is a huge bubble in education prices, there is a huge drop in quality, and all this is bought with more money than any other country spends per capita (same as with gov't ran health care in USA, same problems - huge costs and low quality, all thanks to government money in it.)

      As to 'culture', the only 'culture' that taxes buy is culture of people who are unwilling to do anything and instead expect to be taken care of by the government - this is bread and circuses culture.

      From tools, to access to shared resources, to even the ability to shape the system you live in - taxes buy a lot more than a simple minarchy would allow.

      - all of this assumes that there is a need for any of those things and that by taxing income the government does not displace other types of investment that people would have made with their money, that wouldn't have given them more of what they actually needed, rather than something, government believes they need. This point has no value at all.

      Taxes are the resources of the people paying for the shared needs of the people.

      - yet when the USA was agreed upon by the separate States, the agreement was on a very very very tiny federal government that would do very very very little, would only take care of minimum military for protection and a justice system. What are the "shared needs" of people in New York and in Alaska exactly? How is a government bureaucratic system deciding these?

      Also gov't is terrible at owning 'shared resources'. It really should not own any assets. It's terrible at being an 'owner', because as a collective, it has no sense of ownership.

      That's why it's so terrible at actually protecting the 'shared resources'. The Guelph of Mexico is a good example - oil is spilled constantly, yet the gov't is a system that allowed 10 million dollar cap on the liability of the companies on d

      • You remind me of the time cube guy. You write a lot, but don't say much. What you do say has no substance or foundation in reality. You may read, but you do not comprehend.

        Had you been reading and comprehending sound practical statements from fellow /.'ers and from history you would not produce the drivel written above. There are too many points to breakdown, but I'll take one that offended me the most,

        Government is a necessary evil, but it is an evil, do not forget it. It is an evil,

        Governments are neither good nor evil. They are merely the extension of what the populous choose for

        • I don't particularly care about your comment, it started with an ad-hominem from the get-go, but I stand by my assertion that government is inherently and by the very definition and nature of itself an evil instrument, as it completely depends on its ability to HURT an individual in more ways than one through basically physical threat.

          If the entire existence of a system is based on a threat that there will be physical violence (be it fines, jail or death), then I get to call that system evil on the very fac

  • by rritterson ( 588983 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:09AM (#35836874)

    The vast majority for me is defense and health care. Even though I am exempt from medicare taxes, 25% goes to that category. Anyone who thinks we don't need health care reform is crazy!

    Second, if we stop funding health care people die. If we stop funding defense, what happens? Seriously. If the defense budget is cut in half, in what ways is my life or way of life threatened? I can intellectually measure the value ofnthe rest of my tax dollars in the other categories, but, for defense, it's hard to imagine what I get after spending as much per capita as, say, Japan, on defense.

    • by by (1706743) ( 1706744 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:18AM (#35836914)

      If we stop funding defense, what happens?

      I agree that defense spending should be cut, but I also wonder if we (the US) need to restructure what we call "defense." For example, I think a lot of defense-related research is a Good Thing (ARPANET [wikipedia.org] comes to mind). My guess is the research would be the first to go, which could royally screw us down the road.

      It does seem to me that cutting the military operations budget could be a good thing, but I'm really not qualified to speak on that I guess...

    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Saturday April 16, 2011 @04:22AM (#35837976) Journal

      What seems incredible to me is you're paying more tax for healthcare than me, yet in my country I get healthcare that is free at the point of use and don't need health insurance at all.

      I think I rather like my (pejoratively termed by right wingers in the US) "socialist health care system". It's certainly way cheaper on my tax take and neither I nor my employer don't have to pay for insurance on top of that.

      I therefore have to agree 100%: your health care system sounds as if it needs reform.

  • by mykos ( 1627575 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:13AM (#35836892)
    If we cut that back to 1/6th of our spending on military, we'd still be the top spender in the world [wikipedia.org].

    If we cut 90%, we'd be the world's second-highest spender.

    If we cut back 95%, we'd be 10th.
  • That's funny - the White House tool indicates that those much-praised $1-a-Year Salary Billionaire CEO's [slashdot.org] - Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, etc. - aren't contributing to any of the programs and services!

  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @12:20AM (#35836928)

    If you're not careful, like ndogg, you'll end up focusing on the percentages listed for each group paid for by the income tax (and not payroll taxes) and conclude (incorrectly) that 25% of taxes paid go to defense. Of course that's not true, but it's easy to be fooled by the page. Look again at the page. They only show percentages for those items paid for by income tax as a percentage of income tax. If one includes social security spending and medicare spending, then military as a percentage of total taxes is much smaller. You're not supposed to pay attention to social security spending and medicare spending.

    That page is meant to fool you.

    Want's worse -- it's your own government trying to fool you.

    • That's because those other things are not included under what is often called "discretionary spending", while military (correctly) is.

      The fact is that all the budget is discretionary. Congress just divides it up between those things they can get away with fiddling with and go home at night, from those things they think they'd get lynched for, if they cut.

      The hell of it is that without exception, the latter are things that Congress never had any legal right or authority to spend money on, anyway.

  • by mauthbaux ( 652274 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:01AM (#35837104) Homepage
    Personally, I'm still rather irritated that a significant portion of my taxes went towards 'health care', and yet I still have zero coverage. I realize that this particular discussion has been beaten to death around here, so don't feel like you have to reply. I just want to complain about it somewhere.
    • by gig ( 78408 )

      In other countries, you would pay the same, but you would get health care. That is the worst part.

  • by gig ( 78408 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:07AM (#35837138)

    In other countries, a quarter of their taxes goes to health care, but then they actually get health care for that! It's very sad that in the US, you can pay just as much, yet that only covers old people and poor people and politicians.

    I've lived in 3 countries -- UK, Canada, and USA -- and the health care in UK and Canada is a billion times better than in the US. The doctors here in the US spend about half their energy finding funding for whatever care they want to provide, and people here routinely walk around sick and with untreated wounds and diseases. Even people who "have insurance." And people who live on the Canadian or Mexican border cross the border to get health care or buy pharmaceuticals routinely. It's just amazingly sad.

  • by waimate ( 147056 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @01:52AM (#35837368) Homepage

    The US government spends more than it earns, so for every dollar of tax you pay, the government spends something substantially more than one dollar, with the difference being borrowed and compounded until some future generation pays it back, or the debt (and everyone's savings) are eroded by printing more money and then paid back. To be accurate, the calculator should add to substantially more than 100%.

  • by alphatel ( 1450715 ) * on Saturday April 16, 2011 @04:57AM (#35838144)
    If you actually take the time to expand the categories you'll see that a few lines items could easily be moved around

    Federal military and civilian employee retirement and disability 4.6%
    This is listed under health care, but a major portion of it could be in the Military personnel salaries and benefits.

    The line item for Veterans Benefits 4.1%
    could also just as easily have been a sub-paragraph of the Military budget.

    So if you wanted to read it differently, Health Care would be at 19.7% and Nation Defense would be at 35%
    Now that's more like an American Government!
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @09:04AM (#35839090) Homepage Journal

    I used the tax spending site. And I added my expenses on private medical insurance to my tax expenses on healthcare. That's 54% of my combined total tax and health insurance spending, and 12% of my income. If I include my employer's expenses on my health insurance (that could otherwise be paid directly to me), that's over 18% of my income. I am several years past the median life expectancy and I've collected as much in health insurance benefits over my lifetime as I pay in a year.

    I know I'll be spending a lot more as I get older, especially for the last several years where I'm basically dying. I'd just rather spend that close to 20% of my income directly on Medicare in my taxes. Medicare costs less per care than private insurance. The insurance cartel's gouging and stingy approvals, plus its large profits, atop a mountain of waste, are sucking money from me that will never go to my health, or to anyone else's health other than the insurance corp's shareholders.

    Meanwhile, the Republicans are working as hard as they can to destroy Medicare and Medicaid, and force all of our health expenses to funnel through the private insurance skimmer. The worst part of the Healthcare Reform they manipulated into a shadow of what was needed is what they are trying to convert the whole thing into.

    Medicare for all. Like the rest of the civilized world. Or bust. Literally.

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.